Which? tests uncover shocking ink waste in household printersPrinting occasionally can cost six times as much

20 November 2012

Which? testing of inkjet printers has uncovered shocking hidden costs to home printing.

Printer ink waste

If you're like most people, you probably don't don't print a huge amount in one go on your home printer. But if you only print occasionally, your printer could be automatically wasting a huge amount of ink that you'll never get to use.

Which? testing on inkjet printers has revealed the startling amount of ink that is wasted by the printer head-cleaning cycles that run after periods of rest, or upon starting up.

If you only print occasionally, your printer could be costing you six times as much ink as you would use if you printed the same amount of pages all in one go.

Read the full story on the hidden cost of printer ink in December's Which? Computing Magazine.

Cleaning out your wallet

Inkjet printers use some ink to clean their print heads, ensuring you get consistent quality every time you print. A side-effect of this process is that your printer ends up wasting some of the ink that you've paid for - ink that will never make it onto the page.

But this isn't simply a matter of a few wasted drops. The most wasteful printer we tested, an HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus eAIO, used 525% more ink when we printed pages of colour graphics over a period of weeks, compared to printing the same number of pages all at once.

Drop for drop, printer ink costs more than vintage port or fine champagne, and the ink wasted by printer head-cleaning cycles means that most consumers won't even get to use all of the ink they're paying for.

Switch a printer off or leave it on?

We tested to see if the scale of this ink waste changes when you switch a printer fully off between use, or leave it on standby.

It’s not always the case that leaving a printer on standby is a better option than switching it off altogether. Two HP printers we tested both wasted less ink if you didn’t switch them off between prints, while a Brother, Canon and Epson printer each wasted less ink when we turned the printer off in between.

Leaving a printer on standby at all times may seem like a waste of electricity, though our tests calculated that the HP Officejet Pro 8500A would add £2.54 a year to your electricity bills, and it proved to waste far less ink if it was never switched off using the standby button compared to being turned off between uses.

Which? is calling on manufacturers to make the impact of cleaning cycles on ink costs more transparent, so consumers can better understand the likely ink costs they'll encounter using a printer at home.

For more information on this latest research or to tell us about your printer experiences, join our Which? Conversation debate about the hidden costs of printer ink.

More on this...

  • How to buy the best printer - what to look for when buying a printer
  • Ink cartridges reviews - reduce ink costs by switching to third party ink.
  • How much ink does your printer waste? - Our tests to measure ink waste from automated cleaning cycles.